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la liberté de chercher n’y existe plus

ECAEF is grateful for the permission and pleased to post here an important interview that Prof. Agnes Ricroch (F) recently granted L’Opinion.

Source: l’Opinion, Laure Giros

SÉRIE
– France, que fais-tu de ta liberté ? –
Episode 8:

Des pans de la recherche française sont devenus tabous, la liberté de chercher n’y existe plus

Enseignante-chercheure à AgroParisTech et à l’université Paris-Sud, professeur adjoint à la Pennsylvania State University (États-Unis), Agnès Ricroch est aussi membre du comité d’éthique de l’Ordre national des Vétérinaires, secrétaire de la section Sciences de la vie de l’Académie d’agriculture de France.

La France se définit encore elle-même comme la patrie des Lumières. Pourtant, vous alertez sur le fait que des pans de sa recherche sont privés de liberté…

Cela dépend des domaines. La France abrite des secteurs de recherche dynamiques, en pointe, innovants. C’est le cas pour la santé – la recherche contre le cancer ou les maladies génétiques, avec des expériences poussées en thérapie génique, en édition du génome –, les énergies renouvelables, la neutralité carbone, la chimie verte… Cela colle avec l’air du temps, répond aux grands enjeux sociétaux, notamment climatiques, internationaux et s’inscrit dans les priorités européennes. Sur ces sujets, il n’y a pas de pénurie d’argent, on peut mobiliser des chercheurs. Un bon exemple : l’Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière, à Paris, qui fait un travail remarquable et interdisciplinaire agrégeant aussi des sciences sociales sur les maladies neurodégénératives. Cependant, il existe des domaines devenus des tabous. Des repoussoirs politiques. C’est le cas de la recherche sur le clonage, ou sur les OGM, ma spécialité. La recherche française est en situation de blocage quasi-complet. Sa créativité est entravée, bridée, alors qu’elle a prouvé, par le passé, qu’elle pouvait être extrêmement fertile. Dans les laboratoires français, avant que les OGM ne soient ostracisés, on mettait au point des maïs avec une meilleure utilisation de l’azote dans le but de moins polluer les nappes phréatiques par les nitrates et de réduire les gaz à effet de serre ! Ils ont été vandalisés. La liberté de chercher a quasi disparu dans ce domaine, elle s’oriente sur d’autres outils.

Que s’est-il passé ?

Ces sujets ont été happés par la politique. On a calqué sur la recherche une grille de lecture grossière gauche/droite qui se traduit par anticapitalisme/libéralisme. Les biotechnologies végétales et particulièrement les …

-> l’Opinion

The Anthropocene-Fallacy: Learning from Wrong Ideas

anthropocene fallacy
The Anthropocene Fallacy. Source: TheMarketForIdeas.com

by Henrique Schneider*

This timely and important essay is an edited version of a paper that Henrique Schneider (CH) delivered as the opening at the IV. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference in Monaco on Dec. 10, 2019.

The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change. While it is not an academically established definition, as of yet, it is proposed to have begun in the 1950s. This article posits that the concept is erroneous in at least two ways. First, it relies on a normative, activist, appropriation of science. Second, is disregards the system-property of the ecosystem, which is marked by the continuous interaction between the system and its parts, or agents. But more than this, the idea of the Anthropocene is a case study for how activist agendas appropriate science and academia depriving it from an important academic feature, its skeptical method.

Science or activism?

“Anthropocene Syndrome: a complex of environmental degradation, biological annihilation in the form of species losses, non-communicable disease epidemics, climate change, and increasing incivility in public and professional discourse” (Prescott & Logan 2017, 19). This quote is indicative of many problems. First, it is a normative claim disguised as an academic piece; second, it is uninformed; and, third, it does not conform to the academic method.

Markers of the normativity in the quote are expressions such as “annihilation” and, ironically, the complaint about incivility in professional discourse. These indicate undeclared subjective preferences that might preclude the authors from applying the scientific method. More specifically, these preferences hinder the authors in reaching a conclusion that is independent from their own opinions. That, in fact, happens in the text, when the authors present their solution, similarly marked by normativity and reflective of their own opinions and not of a scientific argument. “The Symbiocene can transcend these trends. The health of people, place, and planet requires compassion, education by example, civility, and diversity of thought” (Prescott & Logan 2017, 41). Tellingly, the “scientific” word Anthropocene is identified as a problem, and the equally “scientific” expression Symbiocene, which seems to be at the same level of but contrary to the Anthropocene, is a solution.

The article is uninformed because, in spite of circa 150 endnotes, it does not once critically address its own assertions. There is not one counter argument, not even one that is refuted. All documentation is nothing but supportive for the normative claim of the authors. This might be a method, but it is not the scientific method, which method is characterized by steady skepticism, the multivariate test of theses or hypothesis with experiments and data or with pro- and counter-arguments in order to reach a conclusion that is independent from one’s intuition or opinion. In this skeptical method, not even the conclusion is definitive but invites to further skeptical investigation (Gauch et al. 2003).

Critically, one might argue that Prescott and Logan are just two scientists, their article is just one article (granted, an invited article that did not pass peer review), and the journal in which it was published is not ranked. The problem, however, goes beyond this article. The concept of the Anthropocene is indicative of how of activism is permeating academia, and even science; transforming both from an institutionalized skeptical method of discovery and creation of knowledge to a process of rationalization of opinions.

These academics sit in boards of multinational companies and other entities, often because of their scientific and academic pedigree. The very idea of having academic, or scientific, advice in these boards is because science is organized skepticism in the form of an expert opinion. Most importantly, methodological caution as it is embedded in the scientific method usually leads to proportional actions (Topitsch 1962). If this should cease to be the case, the case for academia as well as for its link to the practical world weakens, too …

Continue reading ->
The Anthropocene-Fallacy


*Henrique Schneider is a professor of economics at the Nordkademie University of Applied Sciences in Elmshorn, Germany and chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Bern, Switzerland.

Markets and Entrepreneurship – What are the Challenges?

With the following splendid introduction Peter A. Fischer* opened this years IV. CEPROM/ECAEF Conference in Monaco. This international conference series is designed, planned and organized by ECAEF, European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation, chartered in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Markets and Entrepreneurship – What are the Challenges?

by Peter A. Fischer


* Peter A. Fischer is Economics-Editor-in-chief at Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) in Switzerland.


List of all Papers of the Conference

Kurt Leube:
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)

Terry L. Anderson:
Nature and Markets (.docx)

Johan Norberg:
Apocalypes Not (.docx)

Alex Kaiser:
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)

Hardy Bouillon:
On the Misuse of Reason and Science (.docx)

Henrique Schneider:
Climate Change and Global Governance (.docx)

Pedro Schwartz:
The Tragedy of the Commons and Emerging Property Rights

Last Letter from Madrid

by Henrique Schneider*

The 25th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP25) took place in Madrid, Dec 2 – 13. Henrique Schneider was on site and represented Switzerland …

Dear friends of the consensus!

This was the longest UN climate conference since 1992 – this means: ever. It was also the one that did not deliver much. Much is not nothing. It recognized a climate emergency. That’s big. Because emergency goes hand in hand with emergency powers. It is the first time the word emergency has entered an official text. The emergence of the word emergency is in itself an emergency …

Those of you who have been spammed by me with these recounts since 2012 know by now that the issue in which I have specialized moves slowly. It is no surprise that we decided not to decide but to reconvene in one year, probably to do the same again. The exact wording of our decision, i.e. the outcome of our discussion in these two weeks are “Notes the draft decision texts on matters relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement prepared by the President of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement2 at its second session while recognizing that these draft texts do not represent a consensus among Parties”
That is not a catastrophe. It is senseless and maybe irrational. It is expensive. Since 2012 we have spent more than 80’000 man-hours debating markets. However, madness is the business of climate conferences. So: why not?

The interesting thing is that after 8 years of obscurity, markets finally became noticeable. All Paris Agreement things were settled in 2018 in Katowice. All but markets. Now, the 13000 observers and the head of delegations, and the ambassadors, and the ministers, and the 4000 members of the press had finally time to focus on the workings of 500 of so markets specialists. What is true of zoos and sex is also valid in negotiations: the more watching, the more difficult is its to perform.

This time, the presidency made it extra easy not to do anything. The able lady from Chile thought that negotiators, instead of negotiating, should keep going and bouncing ideas. She explicitly discouraged any recording or monitoring of these ideas. Friday, she then realized that there was no idea of what a consensus could be. Saturday, she asked the Spaniard minister for help. If the Catalonia issue is any indicator of what Spaniards consider consensus, it is no wonder that Brazil, the US, Australia and the small island nations boycotted everything leading us to the memorable decision we took.
There was, however, an outcome that has the potential … for harm. There was a declaration for more action in climate. Right now, that piece of paper is a dumping ground for political proselytism. But who knows…maybe it will finally give emergency powers to the UN.

Don’t cry for us, Climate youth, Chile, Spain, looters, munchers, … just remember the facts: Climate Change Fears of Teen Activist Are Empirically Baseless – Just Facts. Madness in Madrid end without markets. See you in Glasgow 2020.
If Switzerland takes me.

Best,
Henri


*Henrique Schneider is a professor of economics at the Nordkademie University of Applied Sciences in Elmshorn, Germany and chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Bern, Switzerland.